Following a tumultuous time in most of last year, the Anglican Diocese of Barbados finally got a new leader with the enthronement this week of Bishop Michael Maxwell, who immediately assured his flock that religion still has a role to play on the island.
“The voice of the church will be heard,” Bishop Michael told a packed Cathedral Church of St Michael and All Angels Monday afternoon following his ritual knocking thrice on the Cathedral’s door seeking ‘admission’ for his enthronement, a fanfare of trumpets and thunderous applause as he was led up the aisle to his symbolic seat as head of the largest religious denomination on this island.
In so doing the 47-year-old became the 14th Bishop of Barbados’ Anglicans, but one by appointment because a of number of voting sessions by representatives of two houses of the Anglican synod resulted in an impasse for most of 2018.
Since Rev’d John Holder retired as both Bishop in Barbados and Archbishop of the Church of the Province of the West Indies at the end of February, the elective synod, comprising Anglican priests who make up the House of Clergy, and members of the congregations who comprise the House of Laity, were called upon to elect a new leader.
Early voting whittled the contest between 45-year-old Rev’d John Rogers and Dean Jeffrey Gibson, 61, but despite a number of voting sessions through the year neither man was able to muster the majority votes of both houses as required for election of a bishop.
This failure to elect an Anglican leader of Barbados caused the matter to be referred to the House of Bishops of the Province of the West Indies who in December looked beyond the contestants and selected then Rev’d Michael Maxwell.
This marked the second time that Barbadian Anglicans proved themselves unable to elect their own leader. The elective synod failed in 1972 resulting in the House of Bishops intervening and picking Drexel Gomez of the Bahamas.
Bishop Michael had been serving as an Independent Senator appointed by the island’s governor general to Barbados’ Upper House of Parliament when he was fingered for the Anglican leadership role last month. He had just completed six months of parliamentary service when asked to leave and lead the church.
“I will continue, to monitor the political, economic and social landscape and, of course, the moral affairs of the nation. The voice of this church will certainly be heard as God’s holy spirit prompts me to speak at any given time,” he said Monday assuring his flock of his parliamentary representation despite being called to serve elsewhere.
“The spirit is saying to us, ‘no more lukewarm church. No more going through the motions, no more simply a head thing.’ It is time to wake up and apply His words to our hearts.”